Cleveland Browns: League says team followed Rooney Rule

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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam hired John Dorsey as the team's new general manager Thursday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam hired John Dorsey as the team's new general manager Thursday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam introduced new general manager John Dorsey on Friday morning and said the team "absolutely" complied with the NFL's Rooney Rule that requires NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate.

The winless Browns shook up their front office Thursday, first firing executive vice president/general manager Sashi Brown, then hiring Dorsey as the new GM.


Dorsey was fired by the Kansas City Chiefs in June after a four-season run as general manager. He previously worked in the front offices of the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. He received a four-year contract from the Browns.

The quick move to hire Dorsey raised questions from John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, over whether the Browns violated the Rooney Rule, which calls for at least one minority candidate to be interviewed for general manager and head coach openings.

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Haslam told reporters during the press conference that he is "disappointed" with the comments Wooten made when he wrote to USA Today Sports in a text message, "I think John Dorsey is a very top quality GM. I am livid that the Browns would totally ignore the work all of us (do) to make the Rooney Rule meaningful."


A league spokesperson confirmed to USA Today on Friday that the Browns did not violate the Rooney Rule.

"The Browns satisfied the Rooney Rule," NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in an email. "A team does not have to disclose names of people they interview."

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Former Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley, who is black, was interviewed by the Browns before Dorsey, according to reports.

The Browns announced Thursday they would keep Hue Jackson as their coach at least through the 2018 season.

"I think it would be a mistake to just zero in on '18," Haslam said Friday of retaining Jackson. "We're planning on Hue Jackson being our football coach for a long time."

Haslam is confident Dorsey and Jackson will "form a great team."

"John and Hue have spent almost their adult life in the NFL," Haslam said. "I think philosophically they look at things the right way. I have a high degree of confidence they will be perfectly aligned, and they both understand how important the alignment is for our success."


Haslam acknowledged Jackson's 1-27 record, including 0-12 this season.

"I wouldn't call that Hue's record," Haslam said. "The record is on all of us, including ownership."

Dorsey, who admitted he and Jackson do not know each other well, will have final say over the roster and personnel.

"All the people I talk to about Hue, they love Hue," Dorsey said Friday. "And they say, 'You two guys are going to work wonderfully together.' I'm excited about that.

"I just like the way the team plays, they play hard."

Jackson said he is confident Dorsey will learn the coaching staff and their systems.

"That is why I think he is so good at what he does," Jackson said of Dorsey. "He is so good at identifying talent and knowing what does fit. When I can talk about a receiver that plays like X, he knows what that looks like and feels like. He can bring in these guys that look like this.

"I think that is the only way you can get to where you want to go in these situations."

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